HAVANA – A fire in the eastern province of Camagüey has been burning for five days and has consumed 3,500 hectares (about 8,750 acres), Cuba’s forest service reported Tuesday.
The area damaged by the blaze consists mainly of underbrush and pastures, although the fire has also moved into some forest plantations in the Meseta de San Felipe, an important natural preserve of pines, eucalyptus and balsa.
So far, no naturally forested areas have been significantly affected, only plantations harvested for their lumber in previous years and not replanted, official news agency AIN said, citing forest service official Geovanne Viera.
Some 130 men are directly battling the blaze with the support of heavy tractors that are being used to build firebreaks.
Conditions are favorable for the flames to spread, authorities said.
The fire began last Friday in an area northeast of the town of Florida, some 530 kilometers (330 miles) east of Havana, and it spread rapidly, fanned by winds of up to 25 kph (16 mph).
In Camagüey so far this year there have been nine fires, eight of them in the Meseta de San Felipe area, which covers 28,000 hectares (some 70,000 acres).
Cuba’s peak fire season runs from Jan. 1 to May 31.